The Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are keeping Nigerians waiting on the status of the old N1, 000, N500 and N200 notes.
Despite the Supreme Court order extending the old notes phaseout deadline, as well as advice from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the government and the apex bank maintained studied silence as of yesterday.
The Council of State, senior lawyers and economic experts had also advised that the old and new notes be allowed to co-exist as legal tenders.
As a result of the lack of direction from the government, Nigerians have started rejecting the old notes.
Malls, restaurants, supermarkets, markets, petrol stations and transporters all demanded new notes at the weekend in many parts of the country.
It was, however, learnt yesterday that the CBN was planning to inject more new notes through the banks.
A source told The Nation that the apex bank has scheduled a meeting for today to review the Supreme Court ruling that shifted the February 10 deadline.
The Supreme Court, following a suit by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, through their attorneys-general, asked the government to maintain the status quo.
It fixed the hearing in the substantive suit for Wednesday.
Old notes rejected
Most churches in Abia State asked their members not to use old notes for offerings and tithes.
In Ebonyi, residents started rejecting the old notes last Friday.
PoS operators charged N1500 for every N5,000.
A resident, Sharon Akpa, said: “On Saturday, I didn’t have transport money after work.
“A PoS operator told me to pay N1,500 for N5000. I was still bargaining when the money she had was exhausted before me.
“She gave me N1,000 for N200 because she knew me. People lined up to withdraw not minding the exorbitant charges.”
In Katina, traders, commercial cyclists and petrol stations rejected the old notes.
A popular retail shop, Greenhouse, announced that old notes would no longer be collected.
Akwa Ibom residents were unable to spend their old notes. Traders, petrol stations and transporters rejected them.
At the Urua Nka market in Eket, many traders preferred not to sell their goods than accept old notes.
A fish seller, Mrs. Idaresit Nyong, said: “The government said February 10 was the deadline for old notes. I prefer to pack my fish back home instead of collecting the old Naira.”
It was the same situation in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, as traders, food vendors and commercial motorists rejected the old notes.
A foodstuff seller at the Okesa market, Mrs Bunmi Oguntuase, said her suppliers refused to collect old notes from her.
In Anambra, businesses also rejected the old notes.
“Nobody can trust this government again. I better lose customers than keep collecting money that would be rejected after,” a customer, Ogochukwu Ibe, said.
In Osun State, malls, markets and other businesses rejected the old notes.
In Imo State, passengers were stranded as transporters rejected old notes.
In Enugu, a civil servant, Emeka Nweze, said: “I went to Mayor Market on Agbani Road to buy foodstuff with old notes, but my regular seller rejected them.”
A bus driver, Uchenna Nwobodo, said he stopped collecting old notes because petrol stations were rejecting them.
Another resident, Clara Ugwu, claimed that her bank refused to accept a deposit of old notes on Friday.
Traders at the Wurukum, Wadata and International markets, all in Makurdi, Benue State, insisted on new notes.
Commercial motorcycle riders conveyed only passengers with new notes.
In Ibadan and other cities in Oyo State, supermarkets and restaurants rejected old notes.
Those who opted for digital payments did not find it easy due to poor networks.
Like in Oyo State, many traders, stores and tricycle operators in Plateau turned down the old notes from customers.
At the popular FoodCo Supermarket, where The Nation correspondent bought some items and tried paying with old notes, he was told by the cashier that: “We have been instructed not to collect them.”
The experience was the same at the popular Kilimanjaro restaurant.
A cashier there said they got a directive from their head office to receive only new notes.
Ondo, Rivers, Delta, Edo, Kaduna residents accept old notes
At markets, stores, eateries and motor parks in Ondo, Rivers, Delta, Edo and Kaduna states, traders and transporters accepted the old notes without complaint.
A lawyer, David Ebriku, who operates a restaurant in the Adegbemike area, said he was accepting the old notes because of the Supreme Court ruling.
In Rivers State, it was not only traders and commercial drivers that accepted the old notes, churches also did.
In fact, the notes accounted for a higher percentage of offering collections during yesterday’s service.
No trader in major markets and residential areas of Warri and Effurun in Delta State rejected the old notes.
Commercial vehicle operators also did not turn down the old currency.
An attendant at one of the stations on Ekenwan Road, Benin, the Edo capital, said their director told them to collect the old notes.
A transporter, Kelvin Kingsley, who plies Sapele Road, Benin, said he had no
choice than to collect old notes since new notes were not available.
At the New Benin market, a trader, Ijeoma Chukwu, said many of them were happily accepting old notes so that they “won’t record losses and die of hunger.”
At the Kaduna Central Market in Kaduna State, traders complied with Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s advice not to reject the old notes.
Ganduje shuts supermarket
Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje shut down a popular supermarket for not accepting old notes.
Kano is one of the states that sued the Federal Government over the implementation of the CBN cashless policy.
Baffa Agudi, the chairperson of the state’s Consumer Protection council, announced the closure of the store known as Wellcare Supermarket.
He added that legal action would be taken against the supermarket’s management.
Agudi also warned that any stores caught rejecting the old notes would be dealt with decisively.
However, the management of the supermarket apologised to Ganduje for its action. It pleaded with the governor to reopen the store.
The management explained in a letter to the governor that it took the decision because of the Federal Government’s “policy on the new naira notes.”
“We gave wrong instructions to our staff members that from the 10th day of February 2023, only the new approved naira notes are to be in circulation,” the letter read in part.
“We humbly plead that our business should be re-opened for deserving members of the public as we undertake to receive old notes as valid tender,” the letter added.
FCT market women decry low patronage
Market women in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said they were having low patronage due to poor circulation of new naira notes.
They said the naira scarcity had made some of them that hitherto did not have bank accounts to open one to enable them to receive transfers from buyers.
“When customers come, they complain that they do not have the cash to pay and ask if they can transfer.
“I do not have a bank account, so if they do not have the cash to pay me, they go somewhere else to try.
“That is how I have missed so many sales for two days. I wish I had a bank account,” said one of the women, Ngozi Kalu, at the Garki International Modern Market.
Ekiti applies to join suit against Fed Govt
The Ekiti State Government has also applied to join Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states in their suit against the Federal Government on the implementation of the naira swap.
Ekiti, in a suit number: SC/CV/162/2023 filed last Friday and sighted by The Nation yesterday, is seeking three reliefs.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dayo Apata, instituted the case on behalf of the state government.
The three reliefs being sought by Ekiti State are: Leave of this honourable court to join the applicants as a co-plaintiff in this suit; an order of this court joining Attorney- General of Ekiti State as a co-plaintiff in this suit; and for such order or further orders that this honourable court may seem fit to make in this circumstance of this suit.”
Some of the grounds upon which the application was premised include an acute shortage in the supply of naira notes in the state since the announcement of the policy by the Federal Government through the CBN.
No going back on policy, CBN chief insists
CBN Controller in Benue State, John Itaha, insisted at the weekend that the cashless policy has come to stay.
Itaha, at a one-day programme on the e-Naira adoption and agent sensitisation in Makurdi, encouraged Nigerians to adopt to the new naira regime.
Police tighten security in Bayelsa banks
In Bayelsa State, the Police beefed up security around banks and their Automatic Teller Machine (ATMs) terminals
The command’s spokesman, Asinim Butswat, in a statement yesterday, said the Commissioner of Police Ben Okolo charged Divisional Police Officers (DPOs), Tactical Commanders (TCs) and other operatives to closely monitor Banks and ATM points to forestall any breach of the peace.
“The command will not allow any person (s) or group of persons to truncate the relative peace being enjoyed in the state,” the statement added.
Catholic bishops flay cashless policy implementation
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) yesterday described the
implementation of the policy as a disaster.
It said: “The disastrous implementation of the CBN cash swap policy, which resulted in a cash crunch, has added to the ordeal, anger and frustration of the masses.
“On account of the hard-biting economic conditions, many of our brothers and sisters are pauperised and go to bed without food.”
The president, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, stated this at the opening
session of the 2023 First Plenary meeting of CBCN in Abuja.
While expressing sadness over the situation, Ugorji said it seemed that the Federal Government was overwhelmed by the current crisis and the insecurity in the country.
Group flays NOA
A support group of theAll Progressives Congress (APC), National Progressive Hub (NPH), accused the National
Orientation Agency (NOA) of failing in its responsibility to enlighten the public on the cashless policy.
It argued that if the agency had been alive to its functions, Nigerians would have been saved from the pains and confusion they are facing now.
APC PCC unit foresees food crisis
Also yesterday, the Agro Commodities Directorate of the APC PCC warned about the looming food crisis caused by the cash crunch.
It said farmers in rural areas were adversely affected by the policy.
A member of the directorate and National Coordinator, Special Projects, Rice
Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Shehu Muazu, told reporters: “Go to rural areas and see how producers of perishable goods are suffering because nobody is coming to buy.
“Once you harvest and you don’t sell in 24 hours, it spoils.
“Rural agriculture in Nigeria cannot survive without cash in the hands of our people.
More than 70 per cent of rural Nigeria cannot boast of power, stable telecoms and banking services.”
Secretary of the directorate, Retson Tedheke, said the naira redesign policy posed a great threat to food security.
“Farmers are already challenged with repaying government and CBN interventions. This will make a bad situation worse,” he said.